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Steve's Blog

Sunday, 13 March 2011 15:19

Coaching Style Blog

Coaching Style Blog

Many years ago there was no such thing as a goalkeeper coach. Goalkeepers were made to train with the outfield players or do a bit on their own but over the years gradually at first this started to change. At some levels there is still nowhere near enough attention paid to our goalkeepers but there has been improvements and nowadays there are specialised goalkeeper coaches around all with their own styles.


There are plenty of aspects to consider when coaching goalkeepers. General handling, footwork, shot-stopping, diving techniques, positioning, 1v1's, dealing with crosses, dealing with back-passes, distribution (throwing & kicking), recovery saves, communication to name some of the areas that goalkeepers need to be aware of and work at. When you break each area down you then look at ways to coach and practise those techniques to give the information and technique to the goalkeepers and to re-inforce it by visiting each topic regularly.


In this modern era as coaches we all strive to try and keep our sessions interesting and fun at the same time which is important to keep the focus of the goalkeeper. However I do think there is a fine line between being innovative and making things unrealistic. You may find an old school goalkeeping coach who is happy with just a ball and a goal and a modern goalkeeping coach who has to have every little tool and gimmick going such as rebounder nets, response balls, poles, ladders, hurdles, and every toy going. Personally I feel that I am somewhere in the middle. One very experienced goalkeeping coach who I have worked with and have a lot of respect for said to me one day when talking about a goalkeeper working on a speed ladder "I can't remember seeing many ladders laying round the 18 yard box when that whistle blows!"  I did laugh when he said that and I understood what he mean't but at the same time I also understand that the speed ladder is to work the goalkeeper to improve his quick feet movements. Going to the other end of the spectrum I think sometimes some coaches use so many tools and gimmicks and lose sight of the basics. I've tried a few bits of equipment such as a response ball (which is a ball with small soft triangle like shapes sticking out of it at various points) which is designed to travel and bounce off in awkward angles to replicate deflections. Some of the young kids find that fun to have a play with but personally I just don't find it very realistic and at times if it catches them in the face it can be uncomfortable for them, not dangerous I should add before I get sued by the makers but certainly uncomfortable so it hardly builds their confidence.


I try to work on themes of goalkeeping and use different drills as much as I can to get that particular theme across but you cannot re-invent the wheel! Often I like to go back to the basics and have a bag of balls and either serve them at a goalkeeper in goal or let the goalkeepers do the serving and stand back and observe and step in and try and help correct errors. Depending on the age and / or level of the goalkeepers you are working with serving can be a problem. In an ideal world someone else should be doing the serving so that you as a coach can fully observe the goalkeeper all through the process making sure they are getting into line, how far off the line they are, what their set position is like then what method of technique they use to make the save. However more often than not you have to do the serving yourself to get the quality of serve that is needed for the goalkeepers to make the saves. Its pointless observing if your goalkeeper faces 20 shots and only 1 is on target!


I read one article by a well known goalkeeping coach on the circuit about how more often than not the ball should be moving when serving such as a ball coming across the server, moving away or serving on the move as apart from free kicks and penalties most shots aren't struck from a stationary position and I thought that was a great point. I agree with that point but also its not always easy to replicate it especially if you are working on a muddy bobbly surface and you want to ensure good accuracy. However I have tried to bring that more into my sessions over the last 6 months when I can.


I feel its important to break down different technique work and work on it regularly as in house building terms its the "foundations" of goalkeeping you are building. At the same time certainly over the past 6 months I have also tried to concentrate time to quite simply having shots come in from different distances, different angles and with different degrees of pace on the ball for the goalkeepers to ultimately work on what they are there to do "keep the ball out of the goal"!


In closing, I do not think there is a definitive right or wrong way to coach goalkeepers, I just think there are different ways and we all have a different style and people learn in different ways. The key to it is finding what works for you and most importantly what works for the goalkeepers you are working with to help them improve.

Tuesday, 08 February 2011 15:33

Development Blog

Development Blog

I recently saw that Sir Trevor Brooking and the FA have started to look and make plans to re-develop youth football in this country and i'm glad. Its fantastic that so many young children play football but to start with at local level its just become far too competitive at too early an age. I've personally always wanted to win whatever game i'm playing be it football, cricket or a game of cards and i'm not saying its wrong to be competitive, far from it. However at such a young age up to I would say around 11 or 12 you look in the local paper and see all these league tables. Then you go down your local parks pitches and you see "Fabio Capello Wannabes" ranting and raving on the touchline screaming at these youngsters!! Now i'm not saying that all coaches and managers of Junior teams are like that as I know alot of people myself who run Junior teams that give their free time and do their best for the children. However I have seen situations myself at first hand, i've heard re-counts of situations from managers and coaches I know and my brother in law who is a referee has been on the end of abuse from some managers/coaches/parents and players all that desperate to win 3 points to see their team move up the table or win a league.


I repeat myself here "There are lots of good people running Junior sides giving up their free time to provide football for children"....However there are also alot of people who get an FA Level One coaching badge, which to be honest you can get with your next packet of Kellogs Coco-Pops. These people then proceed to use their team as a means to feed their own ego and are not so much interested in developing a young child as a footballer or as a person.


I have experienced on a few occasions now where I have sadly had a parent come to me and say that their child was giving up goalkeeping because of the stick they had taken for making a mistake or letting in some goals. Their confidence had been hit badly and one lad I know who I had alot of time for sadly gave up the game altogether which left me also feeling sad!


Being a goalkeeper is hard whether you are in your thirties and 50+ international caps behind you or whether you are just starting out at 6 or 7 years of age. Young players and particularly goalkeepers need our support to develop and flourish, they do not need to be put under so much pressure. GOALKEEPERS WILL MAKE MISTAKES that is a fact. Often those mistakes will then lead to a goal being conceded. What you gain in age and playing in many games is experience. That experience will come in the form of using your techniques of goalkeeping you have learn't but also then knowing what technique to use in different situations in a game and what the best option is.


I have two questions that any young goalkeeper or parent reading this needs to ask themselves when looking for a team to play for:


Do you or your son/daughter want to have a trophy cabinet at home brimming full of medals as your main priority?


If the answer to this question is "Yes" then go and find the best team in the league to play for. However...........


Do you or your son/daughter want to become the best goalkeeper you/they can possibly be?


If the answer to this question is "Yes" then find a team in the middle of the table or even at the bottom end of the table.


Why? You may ask.........because the way to learn is to be put in different situations frequently to help you apply the techniques that you learn and practise and understand when and why you use them. You will also learn to deal with the mental side to the game and become stronger for it. Playing for the top side you may hardly touch the ball and have very little to do so how can you develop and become better? Playing for the weaker side you will have more to do and will learn and improve by applying your techniqes time and time again and will learn to make more correct decisions than poor ones.


When I see a coach showing his/her anger and upset how his/her goalkeeper has cost their team a goal I always think to myself the following: Have you helped that goalkeeper in training in the week practising his/her skills? Before that shot has gone in, did his/her defenders work hard enough to stop the shot coming in? Were his/her team-mates marking the player properly who scored? Did his/her team-mates give the ball away easily allowing the opposition to get the shot in, in the first place? Its just so easy to just blame the poor young goalkeeper and then dent his/her confidence and make them more likely to make another mistake. 


To be allowed to develop properly a young player needs to learn from mistakes they make. To do this they need to know that if they do make a mistake they are not going to get screamed at. That its ok to make a mistake, its not the end of the world and can they find another way of doing something or can they improve their technique through practise so that mistake doesn't happen again in the future.


One aspect of goalkeeping which I believe is the hardest is dealing with crosses. Its very easy for a goalkeeper to just stay on his/her line and hope that their defenders deal with them. However I encourage my goalkeepers to be positive and come and try and deal with as many as possible within reason. They are bound to make errors in judgement but I would rather they try and fail, then learn from that than hide away from it in the first place.


If you or your son/daughter is currently playing for a coach/manager who screams abuse or doesn't handle your situation in a caring and responsible manner. Who doesn't offer ways to help you improve, then I would suggest you are in the wrong club and you need to look elsewhere as there are plenty of good clubs/coaches and managers out there so much better to try that than just give up on goalkeeping or the game itself.






Tuesday, 18 January 2011 16:23

Fantastic Effort Blog!

Fantastic Effort Blog!

Last night (Monday 17th Jan) I collected in the final few envelopes of sponsorship money for the "Save for Robbie Appeal" event which took place on Monday 13th December. When I got home I got out all the other envelopes and completed my spreadsheets, counted up all the cheques and bagged up all the cash and sat in awe looking at the final total on my calculator. Earlier that day I had read the latest piece in the Evening Advertiser on how Robbie's appeal was coming along having noticed over the last couple of months a few articles wherby some Swindon companies had helped Robbie's family out with some events. There was a carpet company in Stratton and Specsavers (a nationwide company) and the total currently stood at £4550.00.


Steve Hale Goalkeeping school is a small goalkeeping coaching organisation ran solely by me with Chippy helping me out with some coaching and support. We have just over 30 members signed up who regularly attend our Monday night sessions. 29 took part on the evening in freezing conditions and over the course of the last month the young goalkeepers and their parents have set about raising funds by way of sponsorship and donations. 5 of the 29 goalkeepers managed to raise over £100 each, one in particular raised a staggering £359 which left me gobsmacked. Both myself and Chippy begged and rolled out our "puppy-dog" eyes to work colleagues, family and friends and between us all the figure that popped up on my calculator at 9.00pm last night was £2055.00!!.....when I set out to try and help out, I thought if I could raise £1000.00 I would have done really well so as you can imagine today I am feeling extremely proud of everyone who has done their bit to make this a success.


I have spoken with Kelly (Robbie's Mum) today and she was amazed and very thankful and within the next 7 days the monies will be handed over and will go into the special account setup for their fund. There are many sad and awful things that happen in this world today and lots of events and charities out there all with good people trying to do their bit to help others, its a never-ending task. It is our responsibility to appreciate what we have, not take it, or life for granted and try and help others and I would like to personally thank everyone who has helped and taken part in this event we put on to try and help Robbie and his family.


A VERY PROUD Steve Hale!

Tuesday, 04 January 2011 17:17

New Year Blog

New Year Blog

I'd like to start my first blog of 2011 with best wishes to everybody for the coming year, hopefully everyone had a really good Christmas.


I had a really good two week break, firstly managing to beat the bad weather and the transport problems and managed 5 nights in sunny Tenerife where temperatures were 25 degrees each day, certainly warmer than the -12 degrees I encountered as I drove down the M4 to Bristol airport for our departure! It was great to get away and relax in the sunshine by the beach or the outdoor pool at our hotel. I'm also grateful my good lady is very understanding as I managed to find a football match to watch, just 5 minutes from our hotel!! It was a Spanish 3rd division game and despite the poor attendance apart from some Brits like me, itching to see some football having not witnessed much back home it was nice to watch a game.


On my return on Christmas Eve we had to acclimatise back to the freezing cold conditions of England, but once home we settled in for Christmas during which we had a good time. Last Thursday the weather had cleared up enough for us to finally play our league cup game with Hungerford for Cirencester where I'm part of the coaching staff so it was good to get back out on the grass and strike some balls at Bully (our keeper at Cirencester). Yesterday on the eve of our game with Swindon Supermarine we had a light snow flurry and it does seem cold again but i'm just praying that the really bad weather has gone so I can concentrate on getting back into my coaching routine.


This week should see me back in after the Christmas break with the goalkeepers at the Centre of Excellence at Swindon and on Monday (10th) it will be the first session back for "Steve Hale Goalkeeping School" so i'm looking forward to that.


With regards the recent "Save for Robbie Appeal" event which took place just before Christmas, I would ask that all members who took part collect and bring in their sponsor money to that session so that I can work out the final total at which point I will make an announcement. Initial figures from what I already have in look good so fingers crossed and I will shortly have pictures of the event on the gallery page for people to view.


I currently have for my Monday night sessions 4 spaces available in my younger age group and 2 spaces available in my older age group. If there are any budding goalkeepers out there who would like to improve their goalkeeping techniques please make contact with me as soon as possible to reserve a place.


Thursday, 16 December 2010 18:43

Proud Blog

Proud Blog!

I want to start this blog by thanking all parents and goalkeepers for making Monday night's "Save for Robbie Appeal Event" a good evening. It was a great effort from all concerned on a cold evening. Thanks go to Mr & Mrs Strange for helping sell raffle tickets and putting all the tickets in Pete Matthews hat (good of him to let us use it on such a cold evening!) Thanks also to Pete himself for taking photographs and thanks to the parents who stayed and watched and also encouraged and applauded the goalkeepers themselves who put alot of effort in. Also special mention to George Burr and his mum who were struggling to get there due to George's sister being late back from a school event. George came out from Wantage just in time to take part in his "20 Penalties" which I thought was a great effort to participate in the event.


I'm trying not to go into too much detail about the event in this blog because as soon as Pete has the pictures organised and the monies are all collected in there will be a full piece on the main site. Suffice it to say I am very proud of all involved with my goalkeeping school for their efforts.


Once again the bad weather has struck! Just as I got to Greendown this evening for a session with my goalkeepers at Swindon Town we were greeted with heavy snow. This made it a non event because apart from being extremely cold to the point of not being able to feel my fingers or toes, the poor lads had a job to catch the ball as it just kept picking up snow and bits of the rubber crumb off the surface!


With more snow forecast I am glad I am jetting off to the sun this weekend as me and my good lady take a 5 day trip to Tenerife (providing we can get to Bristol Airport ok!). Current temperatures in the Canary Islands are 25 degrees so it will be a nice respite from this horrible weather.

Friday, 10 December 2010 18:21

Latest Blog

Latest Blog

For the past two weeks this weather has disrupted football in general and me in particular! I have lost the last two regular Monday night sessions (which included my "Save for Robbie Appeal event"). Also some sessions with Swindon Town Centre of Excellence goalkeepers and the last two sessions I do for "Lions in the Community" down in Andover. As a Self Employed football coach its costing me money and at this rate the size of my turkey on Christmas Day is rapidly decreasing!


Last Saturday we (Cirencester Town) did manage to play our latest league game down at Bashley. All the way there on the coach I just couldn't see the game going ahead as we were surrounded by snow on both sides of the road but eventually when we got there some late night rain on the Friday had cleared the pitch of snow and it was playable much to our surprise. Thankfully we made the most of it and secured an excellent last minute 2-1 win.


Last night (Thursday) I was with Swindon Town Youth team for our FA Youth Cup tie at Championship side Watford at Vicarage Road. We prepared the lads well leaving early afternoon and travelling down on the First Team coach to a hotel near the ground for a pre-match meal. It was good for the lads to sample what it could be like as a professional footballer if they work hard enough and earn that first contract. I will say though that the Hilton Hotel chain need to invest some money in their toasters as the toast for my beans on toast took longer to cook than a Sunday roast!


We reached Vicarage Road and apart from one side of the ground which is tatty the rest of it is excellent and again it was great for the lads to experience playing at a stadium like that. It was always going to be a tough game as being an Academy side Watford have greater resources such as better training facilities, bigger squad size and will have had more actual coaching time as they have come up through their system. We lost the game 2-0 and they were the better side. However our lads did very well and a few things went against us in the game such as losing one of our influential midfielders in the first ten minutes to a bad head injury, then having a debatable penalty given against us with fifteen minutes gone. In the second half we forced their keeper into two great saves but then late on a bit of naivity by our full back cost us when he gave away a needless free kick and they scored from the resulting ball into our box. Overall the lads did well and maybe if a liitle luck had gone our way the result may have been different but importantly it was a great experience for the lads and one with which they can learn from which will help with their development.


Back to the weather and over the last 24 hours there has been an improvement in the temperatures and having driven past Ruskin School this afternoon I could actually see the green of the astro turf not a glaze of white. Providing temperatures don't plummet again over the weekend all should be well for the "Save for Robbie Appeal" event on Monday evening (13th). It would be great if we can make the evening a success and raise as much money as possible for Robbie and his family.

Friday, 26 November 2010 17:39

Blog Number Two

Blog Number Two

This weeks blog has to start with the news of our "Save for Robbie Appeal" which is an event I have planned and started to put into place this week.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010 00:00

New Blog

My First Blog!

I write my first blog sat in my hotel room late at night while in the middle of a three day FA Course.

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